The Best Cities to Visit in Europe in 2021
Planning a trip to Europe in 2021? Here are the top cities you should visit.
With 2021 just around the corner, most of us are dreaming about the trips we’ll be taking to compensate for a lack of travel this year (thanks, pandemic). Europe is a great choice, and here at Plum Guide, we know the continent like the back of our hand. Whether you’re looking to experience world-class cuisine or dive into some history and culture, take a look at our guide to the best cities to visit in Europe.
Lisbon is one of the best cities to visit in Europe for good reason. The capital of Portugal is bursting at the seams with history and culture. Also, the sun shines for 290 days a year, making it a very attractive destination.
It’s pretty hard to miss Lisbon’s landmarks as there are so many dotted around the city. Start at Torre de Belém, a magnificent tower that has stood guard above Lisbon quays since the 16th century. Just like it was the starting point for many explorers setting sail into the Atlantic, let it be yours as you explore Lisbon’s sights.
Other than the sun and the sights, what makes Lisbon one of the best cities to visit in Europe is the food. Lisbon is foodie heaven, from the iconic Portugese bacalhau (salted cod) and the signature bifana sandwich, to spicy piri piri chicken and pastel de nata (egg tarts). Wash everything down with a few shots of ginjinha, a liquor infused with sour cherries. It’s typically drunk at all hours of the day which perhaps explains why the locals are always so cheery. Head to Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon’s most famous food market. Grab some treats before heading to Rossio Square, the best plaza to experience local life.
Although Lisbon is a walkable city, it also has many hills which is something to keep in mind if you’ve had too many pastel de natas. Thankfully, the city is connected by a network of bright yellow trams. Tram 28 is one of the most famous routes, as you journey below the hills of Graça to the domes of Estrela Basilica.
We simply couldn't miss Germany's compelling capital on a list of the best cities to visit in Europe. It’s cool, it’s gritty, it’s glamorous. Berlin is a unique city which has everything: cutting-edge architecture, a rich history, vibrant culture, exciting nightlife and world-class attractions.
Everywhere you turn, you’re bound to come across a historical landmark. It goes without saying that a visit to East Side Gallery is a must. This open-air gallery comes complete with murals painted on the 1.3km stretch of former Berlin Wall.
Culture vultures shouldn’t miss a visit to the appropriately named Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set in the middle of the River Spree, the island is home to five impressive museums built under Prussian rulers.
We’re suckers for a good viewing platform, and every visit to a new city should include one. Berlin is even prettier from above, and luckily there are plenty of places to admire the views. One of the best is the TV Tower, Germany’s tallest building. Sip on bubbles as you enjoy 360° views. Want to fit in a workout at the same time? Burn off the currywurst calories with a climb up the glorious Berlin Cathedral. The Reichstag is another great spot. Home to the German government, the building also has an impressive glass dome for some city centre views. Plus, it’s right near the Brandenburg Gate, another must-see landmark. And if you need to take a rest, take a look at our Berlin apartments.
People from all walks of life visit Berlin for its unrivalled nightlife. There’s something for everyone, from craft beer pubs and sleek bars, iconic concert halls and reliving the roaring twenties in a cabaret.
Florence belongs on every list of best cities to visit in Europe. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city is full of museums, palaces and churches, which house some of the finest artistic treasures in the world from names like Michelangelo and da Vinci. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you can’t go wrong. You’re never too far from a must-see landmark, like the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi and the Accademia.
Wander the narrow cobbled streets to the Arno River where you’ll find the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge. There have been shops on the bridge since the 13th century, and although the butchers and farmers have since moved on, the shops are now occupied by jewellers, antique dealers and souvenir sellers.
Speaking of shopping, not only did Florence give us the Renaissance, it also gave us one of the best retail destinations in Europe. All around the city you’ll find everything from high end designers like Gucci and Ferragamo to shops selling leather, gold and silver crafts, perfumes and ceramics.
Back to Ponte Vecchio. Over the bridge, you’ll find the ‘newer’ part of Florence, the Oltrarno. This vibrant neighbourhood is filled with art galleries, boutique stores, parks and gardens, and trendy eateries. The climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo is definitely worth it for the panoramic views across the city. Tucked out the way, you won’t find hordes of tourists here.
If we only had one word to describe Copenhagen, it would be Scandi-cool (yes, that is a word). World famous furniture and lighting designs, hip streetwear, grassroots ceramics and glassware – Copenhagen is effortlessly cool. It also happens to be one of the world’s greenest and most sustainable city centres. It’s no wonder that Danes rank among the world’s happiest people.
Copenhagen also happens to be a culinary hotspot. Is there anything they can’t do? There are at least 17 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, more than any other Scandinavian capital. You’ll find a whole slew of eateries specialising in pure, organic farm-to-table produce. If you want to splash out, visit the world-famous Noma, chef Rene Redzepi’s gastronomic mecca.
Not ready to give up the high life? See how the royals live at the Amalienborg Palace. Home of the Danish royal family, the palace has a museum where you can check out the private interiors of the most recent royals, and admire blue-blood jewels and art.
A must-visit is Nyhavn, the most iconic landmark in Copenhagen. This 17th century harbour is picture-perfect, with multicoloured townhouses and wooden ships and boats. Bustling with activity, the harbour is a great spot to grab a pastry and coffee and watch the world go by.
As Copenhagen is such a green city, it makes sense that the best way to see it is by bike. Cycle along Copenhagen’s new bridges, including the Circle Bridge, Langebro Bridge and the Kissing Bridge. Another fun way to see the city is by boat. Hey Captain offers canal tours with friendly and knowledgeable guides.